No-deal Brexit looms as EU offer branded 'unacceptable' night before deadline

The terms offered by the EU on a post-Brexit trade deal continue to be ‘unacceptable’, a UK Government source has said.

It comes as negotiators in Brussels enter all night talks in a last-ditch attempt to break the deadlock.

The Prime Minister and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have both warned that a no-deal outcome looks more likely than an agreement, with the pair having agreed to take a firm decision on the future of the trade talks on Sunday.

As the deadline looms, insiders say progress has not been made on the key sticking points.

A Government source told ITV and Sky news: ‘Talks are continuing overnight, but as things stand the offer on the table from the EU remains unacceptable.

‘The prime minister will leave no stone unturned in this process, but he is absolutely clear: any agreement must be fair and respect the fundamental position that the UK will be a sovereign nation in three weeks’ time.’

More discussions are likely on Sunday, with Mr Johnson and Von Der Leyen expected to speak.

It comes after senior Tories reacted with anger over the Prime Minister’s threat to deploy Royal Navy gunboats to patrol UK fishing waters in the event of no-deal.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that four 80-metre armed vessels have been placed on standby to guard British waters from EU trawlers if no agreement on fishing rights is struck by December 31, when the transition period ends.

Reports also suggested that military helicopter surveillance will be made available and that ministers are considering beefing-up Navy powers to authorise them to board and arrest fishermen found to be contravening post-Brexit rules.

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, called the threat ‘irresponsible’ while former European commissioner Lord Patten accused the Prime Minister of behaving like an ‘English nationalist’.

The trade talks continue to be deadlocked over the thorny issues of fishing rights and the so-called level playing field that would tie the UK to future EU standards.

More to follow

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